*destroying* computer parts

fightinfilipinofightinfilipino Angry as HellCharlottesvilleRegistered User regular
edited May 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
i've got a question that's really the opposite of a normal computer thread: how do you have computer parts destroyed?

i've been googling for computer recycling programs and/or shredding services, and all i can find are businesses catering to large companies requiring computer scrapping/recycling in bulk. it's very hard for an individual consumer to find a similar, residential service...

so what i'm trying to find is a service or business where you can bring in old computer parts, especially those with sensitive data like hard drives, and have them destroyed and properly disposed of. this means that the part is completely rendered unusable and then recycled so it doesn't harm the environment. i've got an old hard drive that started conking out on me. i can't plug it back in to a system and do a low-level format to clear any private data (credit card info, bank info, and all that) because the drive doesn't consistently work, but the data can still be accessed.

i've also got broken console parts from an old PS2 system that don't work anymore, as well as other miscellaneous computer parts, like an old 28.8 modem and other things i can't use, donate, or sell. i'd rather recycle them somehow rather than toss them in the regular trash.


i hate being a principled hippy looking to avoid id theft and maintain privacy while saving the earth, but , well, sometimes you just have to do things a certain way. can anyone help?

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Posts

  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA
    edited April 2007
    Try contacting your local recycling company/office. If they don't do it themselves, they should be able to point you in the right direction.

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  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2007
    Well, it's easy enought to make sure the data on your hard drive won't be compromised if that's the primary concern, but disposing of PCBs properly yeah, that's a pain. It's good that you don't want the lead in them leaching into the soil. Check with your local recycling center, or call one of those big places and ask them. They might be able to refer you too.

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  • DrFrylockDrFrylock Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    If you're paranoid, the hard drive should probably just be destroyed. The government effectively runs their old hard drives through the equivalent of a giant woodchipper, if I remember correctly. This site has a link to a gateway that will supposedly direct you to electronics recyclers in your area.

    DrFrylock on
    Pheezer wrote: »
    I would strongly recommend reading DrFrylock's post thoroughly and considering all of his points individually.
  • naporeonnaporeon Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Also, in my hometown, we had these "disposal days", where the county would set up one location for everyone to bring things considered unsafe for regular disposal: computers, chemicals, etc.

    They were free of charge, and were generally held twice a year. You might want to check to see if your community has one.

    naporeon on
  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    If you're very paranoid a strong magnet will destroy the data on a hard drive irreversibly

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  • FristleFristle Registered User
    edited May 2007
    If you're very paranoid a strong magnet will destroy the data on a hard drive irreversibly

    If you actually try this approach, use the proper magnetic field -- a degausser. Anything less and there's little chance it will destroy the data at all, let alone to the degree you need. Obviously recommending you acquire your own $9000 degausser is ridiculous, but there are services.

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  • embrikembrik Registered User
    edited May 2007
    If you're very paranoid a strong magnet will destroy the data on a hard drive irreversibly

    Also, DBAN will do it, software-wise.

    embrik on
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  • MegaMan001MegaMan001 CRNA Rochester, MNRegistered User regular
    edited May 2007
    There is this metal scrapyard in my town that takes computer parts, but they just throw them into a rather large shredder. I have no idea if that's anymore environmentally friendly than just throwing them out, though.

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  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Since you're dealing with personal credit card info, it's safe to assume that a potential attacker isn't going to be sending a drive he found in a scrap heap over to Ontrack for data retrieval, so talking about degaussing and woodchippers is a bit out of scope here.

    If you can't find a computer recycling center that will dismantle the drive for you, just do it yourself. Pop it open with a screwdriver, take the platters out, then run over them with an orbital sander or some sandpaper. Then throw the drive back together and recycle it. Anybody who's so desperate to dumpster-dive for data is going to get as far as plugging the drive in, seeing that it doesn't work, and move on.

    For the record, though, the only way to guarantee data irretrievability from an arbitrarily resourceful attacker is to thoroughly degauss the disk and then physically pulverize it. Luckily 99% of the population will never have to worry about an arbitrarily resourceful attacker.

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  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Feral wrote: »
    For the record, though, the only way to guarantee data irretrievability from an arbitrarily resourceful attacker is to thoroughly degauss the disk and then physically pulverize it. Luckily 99% of the population will never have to worry about an arbitrarily resourceful attacker.

    An example of an arbitrarily resourceful hacker would be one working for the NSA.

    That said, I really doubt your assertion there. There's only so much resolution that a scanning electron microscope has. You'd probably be fine with one or the other, either degaussing (or even a, say, 64-pass random wipe) or physical destruction. Both is a bit excessive.

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  • EverywhereasignEverywhereasign Registered User
    edited May 2007
    A power drill and a 1/4 inch drill bit will take care of the hard drive for good.

    The platters usually shatter as soon as the drill hits them, if you drill through the case, it keeps all the bits contained inside.

    Simple, fast, data destroyed unless someone really wants it and has a few hundred thousand to spend on recovery.

    EDIT - It's also really fun for some reason. Wear gloves and eye protection though, you don't want flying bits lodged anywhere.

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  • South hostSouth host I obey without question Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    I've destroyed a couple computers just by hitting them with a sledgehammer and a pickaxe a few dozen times. I imagine it would be pretty hard to recover data from all the tiny little pieces, but its probably terrible for the environment.

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  • FristleFristle Registered User
    edited May 2007
    FYI, it's not the steel, aluminum, and plastic casing that is hazardous. It's the printed circuit boards with the mercury and stuff in them. The LCD backlight has mercury in it as well. Landfills were not designed to store these elements which are poisonous if they leech into the water table.

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  • FFFF Once Upon a Time In OaklandRegistered User regular
    edited May 2007
    The state(I think) run recycler around here (CA, Bay Area) will run a degausser on hard drives for $20 per drive. Too expensive for my tastes, but if it's just a one off drive that may be your best option to look into.

    For hard drives that I have wanted to destroy (recovery wise) I would take the top cover off, power the drive up and run a screw driver or pliers along the platters while they were spinning. Not the best method, but fun. Adding liquid helps too. If someone wanted your data past that, it'd cost them a petty penny.

    Umm, be careful though. Hard drives spin really fast. ;)

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  • fightinfilipinofightinfilipino Angry as Hell CharlottesvilleRegistered User regular
    edited May 2007
    yeah, uh, i'm not looking into the pickaxe/sledgehammer/power drill/power-up-and-groove-it options. while they do sound fun, they also sound like i may end up with a shard of a hard drive platter in my solar plexus D:

    i'll check into the local recycling programs...they sound like the best bet.

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  • Fort1tudeFort1tude Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    What about just writting 0's to the drive 7 times? It's the government standard and it works.

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  • fightinfilipinofightinfilipino Angry as Hell CharlottesvilleRegistered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Fort1tude wrote: »
    What about just writting 0's to the drive 7 times? It's the government standard and it works.

    well, like i said in my op, the drive doesn't exactly work.

    the reason i stopped using the drive was because it started failing on me. i was hearing the telltale clicks you get from a drive that's starting to physically kick the bucket. i luckily managed to pull off all the data on the drive, but i wouldn't trust it to last through a low-level format. hell, the drive would probably just stop midway and get stuck.

    this also still doesn't give me a solution for recycling the drive, as i know drives are one of the parts that contain a high concentration of pollutants and heavy metals that i don't want leeching into the environment somehow.

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  • Fort1tudeFort1tude Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Fort1tude wrote: »
    What about just writting 0's to the drive 7 times? It's the government standard and it works.

    well, like i said in my op, the drive doesn't exactly work.

    the reason i stopped using the drive was because it started failing on me. i was hearing the telltale clicks you get from a drive that's starting to physically kick the bucket. i luckily managed to pull off all the data on the drive, but i wouldn't trust it to last through a low-level format. hell, the drive would probably just stop midway and get stuck.

    this also still doesn't give me a solution for recycling the drive, as i know drives are one of the parts that contain a high concentration of pollutants and heavy metals that i don't want leeching into the environment somehow.


    I guess I need to learn to read whole posts.

    You could always open the drive up, but that requires special tools. If you do get it open just take a pointy tool like a screwdriver and dent the platter a few times, also if you manage to get it open there are a couple of really powerfull magnets in there you can use for fun stuff. Otherwise I would do the whole "Drill through the drive/SledgeHammer the drive" thing. And your going to have to contact your local recycling company to see how your county goes about dealing with hazardous material like this.

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  • RuckusRuckus Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    In case anyone hasn't mentioned it yet, a good hammer can also be used to make harddrives irrecoverable.

    Ruckus on
    Raneados wrote: »
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  • Fort1tudeFort1tude Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Ruckus wrote: »
    In case anyone hasn't mentioned it yet, a good hammer can also be used to make harddrives irrecoverable.


    Not true, unless you hammer a nail or something through the drive its most likely just damage the case, the platter would still be intact.

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  • blincolnblincoln Registered User
    edited May 2007
    Feral wrote: »
    For the record, though, the only way to guarantee data irretrievability from an arbitrarily resourceful attacker is to thoroughly degauss the disk and then physically pulverize it. Luckily 99% of the population will never have to worry about an arbitrarily resourceful attacker.

    The electron microscope reading your data thing is basically a myth at this point. The supposed vulnerability only really applied to ancient MFM drives, not modern disks.

    Although if you can find an actual documented occurence of someone recovering data from a modern drive using that method (as opposed to vague references on Wikipedia about Teh Government Spies doing it), I'd be very interested.

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  • embrikembrik Registered User
    edited May 2007
    GCycle

    Doesn't get much easier than this crazy, flash-based site to locate a place to take your stuff.

    embrik on
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  • South hostSouth host I obey without question Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Fort1tude wrote: »
    Ruckus wrote: »
    In case anyone hasn't mentioned it yet, a good hammer can also be used to make harddrives irrecoverable.


    Not true, unless you hammer a nail or something through the drive its most likely just damage the case, the platter would still be intact.
    That's what my pickaxe was for.

    South host on
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  • robaalrobaal Registered User
    edited May 2007
    I suspect you could purchase torx screwdrivers on eBay fairly easily/cheaply - you can open the hard drive then and remove the platters, and as previously mentioned - the neodymium magnets that are inside are a pretty neat thing to have.

    robaal on
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  • mindlarmindlar Registered User
    edited May 2007
    You could also try contacting your local military base and find out who they contract their drive disposal to. Secret and Top Secret data is held on their drives and it needs to be destroyed in a manner to ensure that no data survives.

    I have heard that Naval Jelly does wonders when applied to the platters of a drive. No idea how to procure it, how to apply it, or even how safe it is to be around.

    mindlar on
  • blincolnblincoln Registered User
    edited May 2007
    robaal wrote: »
    I suspect you could purchase torx screwdrivers on eBay fairly easily/cheaply - you can open the hard drive then and remove the platters, and as previously mentioned - the neodymium magnets that are inside are a pretty neat thing to have.

    Harbor Freight has a really neat "security bit" set for screwdrivers. It's less than ten dollars, and includes every size of torx and just about every other bizarre driver type you will ever need. It even has a second row of torx bits that have a hole through the long axis to take out that version of them (which I've seen on at least one arcade game).

    I used mine to transfer some server hard drives between caddies from different vendors the other day. I've also used it to open up drives, and yes the magnets are fun - just be careful not to get your fingers in-between them. I made a little maglev thing out of the ones I removed.

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  • MidshipmanMidshipman Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Most hardware stores carry torx heads. Shouldn't cost more than a dollar or two for a single one. Just bring the drive with you to make sure you get the right one.

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  • FishMistFishMist Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    blincoln wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    For the record, though, the only way to guarantee data irretrievability from an arbitrarily resourceful attacker is to thoroughly degauss the disk and then physically pulverize it. Luckily 99% of the population will never have to worry about an arbitrarily resourceful attacker.

    The electron microscope reading your data thing is basically a myth at this point. The supposed vulnerability only really applied to ancient MFM drives, not modern disks.

    Although if you can find an actual documented occurence of someone recovering data from a modern drive using that method (as opposed to vague references on Wikipedia about Teh Government Spies doing it), I'd be very interested.

    I am also of the opinion that there is a lot of bullshit information around relating to the recovery of data from hard drives.

    The following site has some information on the subject (nuder the heading "FORMAT"):

    http://shsc.info/DataRecovery

    That site also has a link to another site featuring a rebuttal to a popular claim concerning intelligence agencies' abiltity to recover overwritten data:

    http://www.nber.org/sys-admin/overwritten-data-guttman.html

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  • arod_77arod_77 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2007
    Shooting monitors is pretty fun, lovely explosions

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  • MuridenMuriden Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    As posted earlier. DBAN!
    http://dban.sourceforge.net/

    This is a great tool for wiping your drives. Run this before you start smashing.

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